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Photography Question 
Richard  Sandoval
 

Capturing a Spider Web Photo


We have a spectacular spider web in our back yard. How do we take a picture of a spider web outside?


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8/14/2007 8:35:23 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
  Get up early ... before the wind picks up, attach a macro lens or close-focusing attachment and focus manually on the web itself. If early-morning dew is present, so much the better. If the spider is "home" at the time, even better still!
Bob


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8/14/2007 8:53:10 AM

 
Carlton Ward
BetterPhoto Member Since: 12/13/2005
Contact Carlton
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  Try to catch the light shining on the web and find an angle that provides a dark background. I love spider web shots, and this is what I find works best. And what Bob said.


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8/14/2007 9:03:32 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
 
 
  Dewed Web
Dewed Web

Micro-Nikkor 105 mm, PB-4 Bellows, Provia 100,...natural light


© Bob Cammarata
cammphoto.com
Nikon FE SLR Camer...

 
 
An effective black background can be created by carefully positioning a flash unit set to expose only the web. This takes practice but this technique can also be helpful in freezing the web and eliminating the risk of blur from that brief gust of wind that always seems to come along just as you squeeze off the shot. Natural light will always look better though, when it's "work-able".
As I mentioned before, the early morning hours are definitely best. Natural dew and/or calm conditions will generally prevail until the sun rises higher and the wind picks up.
In the attached example, a macro lens and bellows unit were used in natural early morning light. (You can see another example shot in early morning here).
You can also use a simple flashlight to accentuate the reflections off a dewed web for some really cool effects. A wide aperture setting, along with a carefully positioned light source, will produce out-of-focus halos of light.
In this example, a flashlight was propped up and positioned to illuminate the dewed web from underneath.
Bob


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8/14/2007 1:49:53 PM

 
Hazel H. Cromer
BetterPhoto Member Since: 2/27/2005
  This is ironic....I was just talking to a fellow photographer friend to get advice on my photos. She said her neighbor told her to spray paint the spider web to get better results.... Never tried it to see how works. She used various colors...I would just try metallic silver or flat gray I think to keep looking real...may still not look real...just thought I would share.


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8/22/2007 8:10:04 PM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  I think I'll reserve any comments pertaining to things like: "Gee, how would you feel if someone walked into your bedroom and started spraying YOU with aerosol paint." Nah. I won't go there.

I do like the idea of getting up early as Bob mentioned, early as in before the spider wakes up.

Anyone try a white fil card to bounce/ reflect light back into the web?
Take it (ummmmmmmmmmmmmmm) light.
Mark
==========================
Ok, time for sing along: "An eeensy teensy spider climbed up the water spout....(c'mon, you all know the words)... down came the rain and washed the spider out...."



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8/22/2007 8:25:12 PM

 
Sharon  Day
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/27/2004
Contact Sharon
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  Wouldn't hurt to mist them a little with water though.

"Out came the sun and dried up all the rain and the eeensy teensy spider went up the spout again" :)!


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8/22/2007 8:52:21 PM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
  I've never used a mister to create "dew" when it's so much easier and more natural to just get up early.

As to the spray paint idea:
Have you given thought to how the chemicals in the paint might affect the spider?
I can imagine that it can't be good to consume prey that's been snared in a painted web.

Bob


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8/23/2007 2:06:44 AM

 
Jayne Martin   I too have been trying to capture a web in my backyard..nothing works... misting, early morning, etc. I did get a halfway decent pic, but nothing that compares to other web pics on BP, but never, ever did I think of spray paint...please don't use spray paint..that just hurts my soul (I know it sounds corny, but it does)!!!


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8/23/2007 2:39:45 AM

 
Mary Iacofano
MARYIACOFANO.COM
  I'll be singing the jingle to myself all morning! lol


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8/23/2007 2:59:35 AM

 
Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Very good Sharon !!! You get 5 stars !! Move over Mr. Rogers...no wait a second, he can't move... Never mind.

I really like the water mist idea. Invigorating for the spider too !!! Hey Bob, how bout trying a circular polarizer in a shot with strong side or even backlighting?

Have a great day gang. I can't think of any more spider songs. But keep singing. :>)))
M.


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8/23/2007 8:48:04 AM

 
David A. Bliss   Bob, when you live in the dry west, even getting up early will often not result in getting natural dew. Sometimes nature needs a little help! ;-)

I realize this isn't a Nature Photographer's forum, but like those above said, please don't ever do anything that can or would result in injury or sickness to the subject (or anything else for that matter). I imagine that since the spider web is stunning enough to shoot, then you wouldn't want to do anything to jeopardize the health of the spider.


Spider pig, spider pig...


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8/24/2007 7:42:47 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
  Here in the eastern U.S., dew comes easy.
All you need is a cool clear overnight and a calm morning. As soon as the temperature gets just right, water vapor in the air condenses and dew forms on all exposed surfaces...including webs.
Often they will be so laden with moisture that they sag from the weight of it.

One thing I've learned through the years is that spider webs are usually engineered in such a way that they will face the morning rays of the sun (...for quicker drying time I guess).
If you look toward a rising sun, you can see the dewed webs glistening from many yards away.
Angling your point of view toward the sun will accentuate the effect of the reflective beads of water but you will need to be ever cognizant if lens flare.

Another tip I've found helpful is to wear waterproof boots and an old pair of rain pants over my trousers. This helps keep me dry when working close to the ground or in wet grass.

I abhor the practice of painting or altering a web to make it appear more photographic.
I've heard of photographers using a fine-spray mister to add dew where it didn't exist and I guess that's OK...as long as there are no rules of ethics compromised where the photo will eventually be displayed.
I've even heard of folks spraying refrigerant onto a bug to immobilize it for a photo. This is just plain WRONG in my opinion.

Bob


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8/24/2007 8:26:02 AM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
 
 
 
NO! NO! A thousand times NO! As a nature and wildlife photographer “wannabe” The cardinal rule of nature photography is that you never, ever, under any circumstances, alter, rearrange or harm your subject or the environment. No image, no matter how good, justifies breaking this rule. Most legitimate contests prohibit entries where it is clear that either the creature or the environment has been altered, adjusted or changed in any manner. The entire reason why anyone wants to be a nature photographer, amateur or pro is because that person has a love and respect for nature – well, at least that is the only rational reason for doing this work! That is why most of the experts [Moose Peterson, Jim Zuckerman, Art Wolfe, John Shaw, etc.) preach this rule and abide by it in their own work. The second part of the rule, as it has been taught to me, is that in order to improve your nature photography skills you have to study not only photography, but also nature. The more you know about both the more likely you are to get that great image.

Capturing a nice spider in its web or just the web itself requires you to be up early – just after sunrise is best. It also requires that you do some pre-shooting planning. You know that saying that luck favors the prepared; well, in most nature photography this is very true. Learning a little about the spiders who call your area home will make it easier to predict when you are most likely to find intact webs and when the spider is most likely to still be around. Different spiders build different type webs and each spider sub-species exhibits a different behavior. Some seem almost oblivious to the presence of you and your camera while others will skittle away as soon as you come close and some even destroy their webs while running away. As to how to best capture the beauty of a web, again, early morning is usually the best time and after a light rain or when dew is heavy can create a nice scene. Try various angles and if you have more than one lens, try each lens. Macro lenses are great, but I have also used a zoom and even a wide angle. I find that setting exposure compensation to anything between minus ˝ to a full stop can help make the web pop. I prefer natural light; however, side lighting and/or backlighting can be effective if done right.


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8/24/2007 9:39:44 AM

 
David A. Bliss   Oooo... can we turn this into an ethical discussion about what is ok to do in nature photography!! ;-P Kidding!!

Boots and rainpants are a good idea. There have been a couple of morning I came back from shooting with my shoes squishing and my pants soaked to the knee, just from walking through a field!

I have a pair of ski pants that I use when shooting in the winter, to keep warm, but more importantly, to keep the snow from getting me wet when I am kneeling in it. Wet cloths in the summer is annoying, in the winter it can be dangerous! Sorry, end of hijack! ;-)

Also, good point about the angle to the sun. To get the nice, glowing look to the dew on the web it is probably better to have it back or side lit. Make sure you have a good lens hood, or maybe someone to block the sun from the lens.


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8/24/2007 9:43:27 AM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
 
 
 
This thread caught my attention and interest.
Thanks for info for the next time.

..but, Oh Boy, I don't like to get up early... I shot this yesterday around 9:30a.m. after my breakfast and morning coffee.


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8/24/2007 9:56:04 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
 
 
  Wolf Art 1
Wolf Art 1

Micro-Nikkor 105, PB-4 Bellows, Provia 100


© Bob Cammarata
cammphoto.com
Nikon FE SLR Camer...

 
  Wolf Art 2
Wolf Art 2

Micro-Nikkor 105, PB-4 Bellows, Provia 100


© Bob Cammarata
cammphoto.com
Nikon FE SLR Camer...

 
  Wolf Art 3
Wolf Art 3

Micro-Nikkor 105, PB-4 Bellows, Provia 100


© Bob Cammarata
cammphoto.com
Nikon FE SLR Camer...

 
 
I've attached a few photos I just got back from the lab of a cooperative wolf spider I met just last week.
I realize that this has nothing to do with our current discussion...and I apologize to Mr. Wolfe who's work I admire for the obvious play on words in the titles...but I just wanted to share.

Those are great shots Irene and Nobi!
I've seen those golden orb weavers a few times...and we have a lot of marbled orb weavers around here which are quite interesting and fascinating to watch.
I've never seen Nobi's "crab gal" before...very interesting looking critter.

Bob


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8/24/2007 4:04:26 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Nice images, Bob! I didn't know that you had wolf spiders in Maryland - you do live in Maryland, right? Are they out during the day or only at night and at sunrise/sunset? I'd love to capture an image of one of these!

Irene


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8/25/2007 8:18:01 AM

 
Pat Wimpee   Holy crapola!!!! Am I seriously the only one that would have grabbed the can of RAID and sprayed like heck?


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8/25/2007 9:10:00 AM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
 
No, I don't think you are the only one...
There are people with arachnophobia.
But many photographers are naturally nature lovers. We won't harm harmless creatures of any kind.
In the summer months every now and then, we get those little transparent-like lizards in the house. (a kind that changes colors depending on where they happen to be. In side the house, they become transparent color.) I catch them in my palm and take them outside. These little guys will starve if they stay indoor very long.


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8/25/2007 9:46:55 AM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
 
 
 

Say, Bob...,
these spiny-backed orb-weavers are seen in Florida and East to Central Texas. I am in Central Texas and started seeing these little guys the last few years.
Right now, I see 4 of them in my backyard with one red and others are white. I am trying to shoot a real close-up of the red one, but so far the angle of the web is not ideal for good lighting. I'll post what I have right now.

By the way, these guys are small, about 5 to 6 millimeters long, 6 to 8 mil wide: that is about half the size of a dime.


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8/25/2007 10:02:36 AM

 
Gen Nagase
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/31/2003
 
 
 

Say, Bob...,
these spiny-backed orb-weavers are seen in Florida and East to Central Texas. I am in Central Texas and started seeing these little guys the last few years.
Right now, I see 4 of them in my backyard with one red and others are white. I am trying to shoot a real close-up of the red one, but so far the angle of the web is not ideal for good lighting. I'll post what I have right now.

By the way, these guys are small, about 5 to 6 millimeters long, 6 to 8 mil wide: that is about half the size of a dime.


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8/25/2007 10:03:06 AM

 
Bob Cammarata
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/17/2003
cammphoto.com
  Irene,
Yes, Maryland has several species of wolf spiders...though upon careful examination, I'm pretty sure the one I posted here may actually be a nursery web or fishing spider (Dolomedes scriptus).
(That huge abdomen was what had me "crying wolf".)
Sometimes it can be real tough to tell them apart.
This photo is of a typical wolf spider found in the eastern states. They are easy to distinguish from nursery web/fishing spiders by the way the female carrys its egg sac on her abdomen.
As to when they prowl, I encounter them usually by accident while looking for snakes, insects and other creepy critters to poke my lenses at.
I'll often spot them sunning on a warm rock on a cool morning.

Nobi,
It's true that outdoor photog's are nature lovers. They learn to respect and appreciate what's around them.
We have a "cousin" to that spiny-back here but he(she) is black/gray with a really weird looking abdomen. I've tried several times to get a decent photo but they build their webs in deep shade and I can never get anything with my bellows or extension tubes because it's always too dark.

Bob


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8/25/2007 3:17:50 PM

 
Irene Troy
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/27/2004
  Thanks for the info, Bob! This summer I have been working on a project for a nature education center in southern Maine that involves researching, writing about and photographing all matter of small insects, amphibians, reptiles, spiders, etc. At first the job made me a little crazy, but now I am really into it and love the fact that I am learning so much about the very small inhabitants of New England.

Last night was a perfect example of why my neighbors look at me with just a little concern for my sanity. I was already in bed and about to turn the light out when I remembered that my car was still under the trees – to keep it cool during a very hot day – and that this was not a good place if the forecasted storms arrived. On my way out of the house I saw that the side of my house was covered with all sorts of neat bugs. I spent the next 90 minutes going around with jars and a net capturing some of the insects and bringing them into the light so that I could capture their image! I am happy to report that no insect was harmed and all were released where found and they seemed none the worse for having posed for my camera. Now that is the sign of a true nature lover and perhaps a real nut!

Have fun hunting for cool things to photograph, folks!

Irene


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8/26/2007 7:12:58 AM

 
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